Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 23, 2015 3:18 p.m.

Official FBCC Class of 2014-15 Photo Seated (l-r):  Commissioners Robin Lentz and Pat Gass Standing (l-r):  Commissioner Tim Poynter, Mayor Ed Boner, Vice Mayor Johnny Miller
Official FBCC Class of 2014-15 Photo
Seated (l-r): Commissioners Robin Lentz and Pat Gass
Standing (l-r): Commissioner Tim Poynter, Mayor Ed Boner, Vice Mayor Johnny Miller

Despite 3.5 hours of a regular meeting on top of a half-hour special meeting on January 20, 2015, Fernandina Beach City Commissioners (FBCC) maintained cordiality toward each other, city staff and speakers from the audience. They even engaged in light banter at times, despite lack of unanimous votes on some significant issues, such as consolidating police dispatch, upholding a Special Magistrate’s ruling on a wetlands matter, and proceeding with the controversial marina welcome center deck. (See separate articles on these topics.) 

Several other actions deserve mention, along with commissioner reports.

Alachua Street Rail Crossing (Resolution 2015-03)

Commissioners approved via unanimous vote a new, amended Stipulation of Parties with Florida Department of Transportation, First Coast Railroad and CSX Transportation, Inc., to extend the window of time for opening the Alachua Rail Crossing for up to 5 years. The original Stipulation was executed in 2009 and called for the project to be completed and operational by February 25, 2013. That deadline was further extended to 2015. Since the project is currently unfunded, the city has requested an extension of up to 5 years. By approving the extension, the FBCC has not committed to begin work on the project.

Board Appointments

Commissioners unanimously approved the following appointments:

  • Airport Advisory Commission: George Haffey
  • Arts & Culture Nassau: Suzanne McLeod, representing the Amelia Island Jazz Festival
  • Greens & Oversight Committee: Carl Galpin, Men’s Golf Association representative

City Manager Report

City Manager Joe Gerrity informed commissioners that Brian Teeple of the Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council has agreed to facilitate the city’s goal setting meeting. He presented a draft agenda and asked for feedback. He endorsed Commissioner Robin Lentz’ suggestion that commissioners come to the meeting with three short-term and three long-term goals for the city. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the municipal golf course clubhouse on February 4, 2015.

Gerrity asked commissioners if there was any interest in pursuing another inflatable waterslide for Main Beach. Commissioners discussed the pros and cons of such an idea, deciding to put off any decision until the Parks and Recreation Committee submits its recommended Master Plan for Main Beach.

City Attorney Report

City Attorney Tammi Bach reported that she and Ocean Highway and Port Authority OHPA) Attorney Clyde Davis disagree on whether the deep-water port lies in the city. The FBCC supported her request to pursue an opinion from the State Attorney General. Bach added that there is still an application pending before the FBCC regarding approval of the OHPA Master Plan.

Vice Mayor Johnny Miller
Vice Mayor Johnny Miller

Vice Mayor Johnny Miller

Vice Mayor Miller reported that the downtown parking issue “is becoming adversarial now” with some business people purposely parking in front of other businesses to block their parking spaces. He noted the presence of the Police Auxiliary Officers downtown, but said that no tickets are being written. Commissioner Robin Lentz, citing an improvement in the downtown garbage situation, wondered if downtown businesses had been reminded of the parking limits. Following commissioner discussion, Gerrity said that FBPD Captain Jim Norman was in the audience and hearing the discussion. Miller continued saying, “I think we need to gorilla tackle this thing, because when we start giving tickets, people will start moving their cars to public lots. I hate that it’s come to this.” The 3-hour parking limit is in force between 7a.m. and 7p.m.

Commissioner Robin Lentz
Commissioner Robin Lentz

Commissioner Robin Lentz

Commissioner Lentz complimented the organizers of the MLK Day Parade. She also reported on the last NACDAC meeting she attended as commissioner-liaison during which participants praised the city for its leadership role in banning synthetic drugs from the city.

She asked for a discussion of the waterfront park before the goals meeting. Gerrity said that he needed to bring the commission up to speed on what is happening at the airport and the waterfront park. In her role as commissioner-liaison to the CRA Advisory Board, she asked for an update on the creation of the Quiet Zone downtown. Gerrity reported that Deputy City Manager Marshall McCrary is working on this issue and has filed the request. The permitting agency has raised objection to the city’s request, because the railroad crossings downtown are not signaled on both sides. Gerrity said that the city is trying to decide what to do and that there is a little bit of state money that might be able to help with this project.

Gerrity responded to another Lentz request for an update. He reported that Westrec representatives might be willing to help subsidize start up of the East Coast Greenway ferry connecting St. Marys and Fernandina Beach. As a representative of the LDC committee working to revise codes to improve 8th Street, Lentz informed commissioners that there is interest in forming a coalition to work on streetscaping for 8th Street.

Mayor Ed Boner
Mayor Ed Boner

Mayor Ed Boner

The Mayor reported that he had received positive comments about the MLK parade, but that the parade was not as well attended or as diversified as it should have been. He reminded commissioners and the audience that Martin Luther King Day is about human rights. “Some people see it as a very small thing, but it is really a very big thing,” he said. Boner indicated that he had received a request to name a ball field for a former city worker and that he would like to address that issue further at a future meeting. Finally, he commended Bill Flynn, President of the Friends of the Library, for his work since 2006 to bring the library project to fruition. He sought input on appropriate recognition for his efforts.

Photo credits:  City of Fernandina Beach


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Steve Crounse
Steve Crounse (@guest_27110)
7 years ago

The $50,000 per year that the Nassau County Port Authority Pays to the City of Fernandina in Lou of Taxes. Was supposed to be ear marked for: $ 25,000.00 for additional Parking in Down Town Fernandina Beach. $ 25,000.00 ear marked for a Community Center. How’s that working out ? Oh, in 1986 the Port of Fernandina was in City limits when this mess started. When the City turned over the property for $10 dollars a year in rent. To be Payed on Oct. 5th of each. Then in 1989 the Nassau County Ocean Highway and Port authority took position of the property. At that time the Port was to pay our city the $50,000.00 in Lou of taxes. But wait, from 1989 to 1992 the Port Payed nothing. Letters from the City requesting the money, rescinding agreements to expand the Port on City property. I don’t know what happened next. I got bored. But as you can see, even in 1986 This Commission did’nt like to play nice. Now unless the Port has become a Principality, It is in the confines of Fernandina Beach. Ms. Bach will win this one.

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